Nov. 20 marked the 50th anniversary of the annual Soul Train Awards and what better place to celebrate the historic milestone than right in the heart of Harlem at New York City’s Apollo Theater. The annual awards show pays tribute to the best of the best in r&b, soul, and hip-hop.
A slew of celebrities attended the star-studded event including singers Jazmine Sullivan, Summer Walker, and Ashanti, who was honored this year with the Lady Of Soul awards for her achievements in the music industry.
“I’m honored to be recognized as this year’s Lady of Soul honoree,” the 41-year-old Grammy-winner said in a statement according to Entertainment Tonight. “This is a full-circle moment for me because I received the ‘Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year’ Award at the Lady of Soul Awards in 2002. As we commemorate 50 years of Soul Train, I’m proud to be a part of this legacy and to return to the Apollo to celebrate.”
“I’m proud of BET and Soul Train for acknowledging her because she’s been a beautiful ambassador to hip-hop and R&B,” Fat Joe echoed.
The show’s creator and host Don Cornelius launched the iconic dance show in October 1971. Soul Train grew popular for its incredible celebrity performances and energetic crowd-goers who danced along showing off their best moves and creating what we now know as the famous Soul Train line. The show’s legacy continues to be carried through its annual awards ceremony which is produced and aired by BET.
“When Don Cornelius created that … he was a trailblazer. He knocked down doors. He gave opportunity,” said Connie Orlando, BET’s vice president of specials, CBS 2 reported. “He was about celebrating and showcasing artists that didn’t get that opportunity other places. And I think that that’s always important to carry on, because I think that still exists,” she added.
The inimitable Maxwell also received the Living Legend Award for his decades-long career pioneering the Neo-Soul genre. The Brooklyn native wow fans in 1996 with the release of his debut critically acclaimed album “Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite” that featured classic hits like “Sumthin’ Sumthin'” and “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).” The album went certified platinum twice upon its release. In 2010, Maxwell won three Grammys including one for “Pretty Wings” and another for “Lake By the Ocean.” The soulful hits appeared on his fourth studio album BLACKsummers’night which also snagged an award for Best R&B Album.
The Soul Train Awards will officially air on Sunday, Nov. 28, at 8 p.m. on BET. Will you be watching?